Tiny wireless implants would allow researchers to conduct experiments with mice without using wires.
Scientists may have just completely changed the experiments will be done in the future — and it’s all thanks to a tiny, implantable device that will allow scientists to create little cyborg mice armies.
Researchers from Stanford University have created a device that will let them use light to stimulate a mouse’s brain nerves wirelessly, eliminating the need to long wire hookups, enabling mice to move more freely during experiments and vastly expanding the range and complexity of experiments scientists will be able to conduct, according to a UPI report. The findings were published in Nature Methods.
They are using a process called optogenetics, or the use of light to control brain activity. Wires are attached to the head of a mouse so its nerves can be stimulated, also providing power for the light. This research could be a major benefit in future research, as it will make experiments flexible and customizable, with mice that can perform more and more complex activities.
In a statement, Stanford assistant professor of electrical engineering Ada Poon said that this represents an entirely different way of delivering wireless power through optogenetics. And its tiny size will give the mice freedom of movement, genetically modifying them so that their brains can be manipulated by light and then having a tiny coil that is implanted into the animal itself. The mouse is then put in a chamber capable of transmitting radio frequency, and signals are transferred through its paw to the coil.
Currently, researchers have to attach wires to its head, an inconvenient reality that restricts the movement of the mouse, limiting the experiments it can take part. This implant, on the other hand, would allow the mouse to do tasks like digging or navigate mazes in certain situations, which would be impossible with tangled wires getting in the way.